Please, activate plugins that come with the theme.

Lost Hours

I've already lost an hour. I might as well just spend the rest of the day reading.

It’s that time of year again when my obligatory rant about the futility of “saving daylight” comes around, and I grouse about another week lost to the adjustment required for a purely ridiculous political construct.

It doesn’t help that this time of year is also when my allergies are at their worst – the two times I’ve been hospitalized for anaphylaxis were both at the beginning of bloom-time. This past week was edging that direction with a complete torso full of hives.

Luckily, we have tools at home that help me get through those difficulties, and my lungs are settling down again. But my eyes have taken on the puffiness of an excess of histamines in my system, so I retreated into a book yesterday. I found another new-to-me author, AE Jones, who worked a new angle to cozy mysteries with her Paranormal Wedding Planners series that had me thoroughly entertained. Enough so I lost even more of the night than I would have without the bloody DST kicking in. So I had to laugh when I read about words avid readers regularly mispronounce.

But since sleeping (and losing even one precious hour of it) is most particularly on my mind this week, I found it interesting to read how work-from-home schedules tend to lend themselves to worse sleep habits. I’m lucky that I have an in-home office, so at least I don’t have the disruptive association of a laptop in bed. On the other hand, following the advise of improved sleep hygiene according to what is recommended for getting toddlers to go to sleep also seems a stretch.

Then there were the two stories about the impact of place on people that caught my eye. The first was the ubiquity of naming places in Britain after the local soundscape. The second was that the majority of what are classically considered Italian foods, are, in fact … not. It’s remarkable that ancient trade routes still have such a profound impact on what people consider native.

And now that we’re completing our first year in our new home, and pondering our next gardening moves, I’m drawn back to those considerations. What are native species and how do we support native wildlife? In my wildest dreams, I think about building a recreational pond. But then you check on YouTube about costs, and come back to earth with… maybe this year we’ll just add another raised bed or two, and make sure to get in on ordering artichokes early enough that we can eat those showy flowers sooner than later.

In the background, I’m back to dipping my toes into the writing water. Between work and allergies, I haven’t had much energy for that effort, but it is definitely my intention to buckle down in the next few months. I’ll keep you posted.

A Quarter Century of Doing

And if, when it is all over, I'm asked what I did with my life, I want to be able to say, "I offered love." -Terri St. Cloud

This month, hubs and I celebrated our silver anniversary. It’s certainly an inflection point, but in the end, mostly just about helping each other make our dreams into reality. We were able to achieve a milestone this past year that we hadn’t anticipated for a few years yet when we bought our house. We’ve settled into a new rhythm here, and are now seeing the final days of our fist full year in this place.

Now it’s time to get back to our other dreams. I’ve started writing book three of my Planet Seekers series, though it’s been delayed by an editorial job that should result in an audio book edition for book one. Hubs is refocusing on work on his next album.

We’re both feeling the stirrings of Spring – though, to be honest, it feels more like allergies than real creativity at this point. So a creative take on alternative forms of meditation caught my interest. As did a literature review about the arguments against free will. And a summary of the leading discoveries in physics in 2022. More concerning was reading about Bonhoeffer’s “Theory of Stupidity.” And recognizing he might be onto something.

It’s still remarkable to look back across the years, and feel time speeding up. We’re talking less about new dreams and more about deepening our understanding and connection. Certainly for me, facing the reality that menopause is around the corner means final closure to the dream of my own family. It will always be a dark corner of sadness, but there is release in facing forward and making decisions about what this alternate shape of my life will look like. What the legacy is that I will leave behind to people who have no blood-bonded reason to care about me.

It’s a new way of thinking about the future. Having seen how quickly the past twenty-five years have flown by, it’s also a bit worrying the number of big projects we keep committing our attention to. I suppose that’s a way of saying we’re both in decent health and still have a goodly number of other dreams to pursue.

So I’ll reiterate my audacious goal of 2023: Release book three as well as at least two audio books. I’ll keep you posted on my progress, as per usual.

Another Year Gone

Image of a red squirrel with its paws outstretched with the caption: "And just like that... POOF! Weekend gone!"

So 2023 begins. Actually productively. I finished a big editing job this weekend for a nonfiction book that has my cogs turning about the power of the spoken word. Interestingly enough, this particular job is in trade for finally getting one of my novels read into audiobook format.

I’ll keep you posted on when the audiobook is available, as well as when that nonfiction book goes live. In fact, you’ll know about that one because it’s ponderous enough I’m planning to post a review. For a preview, the author has posted a YouTube video outlining some of her thoughts.

Of course, we’re in the midst of the darkness of winter, and have just passed the various holiday celebrations of the return of the light. I’m grateful we’re enjoying a mild winter in our new place, and have had our windows and doors open today again, for the third time this week. In fact, I recently learned that there’s an Irish tradition of leaving the doors open to allow the old year to pass through – which was enough to generate its own meme. But there are other interesting, local traditions elsewhere in the world. And there is a long history of caroling during festive times, as well as a much newer tradition of sending Christmas cards. (Which we don’t, for a variety of reasons, so this blog serves as my general update on life in progress for friends, family, and other readers.) That also raises the question of what even is Christmas spirit? Along those lines, research done by one of the Pew groups is starting to highlight the contrasts and similarities between being religious, spiritual, and atheist.

To which survey I might respond with some of these well-stated “stay out of my business” quotes. Though I do appreciate the people who shared their family holiday traditions.

It seems that some of the various treatments I’ve been undergoing in the past year have given me the energy to make more progress on my creative work. So my goal for this year: To release at least two more novels – one of mine, and one co-written with Gayla. I’ve already heard the first two chapters of my audiobook-in-progress, so imagine that will be coming out sooner than later as well. And if things are really flowing well, who knows how many more words of fiction I might produce. But since I’ve been fallow for so long, we’ll keep things manageable with these three. I’ve already begun as I mean to go on, so we’ll all cross our fingers that the year allows them to come to fruition. As ever, I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Quiet Souls

"Some days, the world is too loud, for a quiet soul." - J. Rose | The Minds Journal

Our new place lends itself to bird watching, though we still do it more from the wonder at the range of species with whom we live in close proximity than anything as formal as a birding log or even falling back on the old birding guides I know my grandparents made regular use of. Every week or two, a bald eagle will soar overhead… more than likely chivvied along by a local crow. And we’re seeing geese fly toward Aquia Harbor – and can see a lot of that water from our house through the naked tree branches now. I suppose picking up birding wouldn’t be the worst habit I might pick up from my ancestors.

It makes me think about some of the pervasive myths about survival in the wild.

And then there’s the new thing about going “Goblin mode,” Oxford’s “word of the year” this year. I can get with the lazy part of this, and can even see how dressing for comfort might edge in this direction, but I have a hard time getting behind slovenly and greedy. Unless those have been defined by someone who’s not getting every last drop of my energy to serve their needs. Luckily, I’ve learned a lot about defining how I live my life on my own terms. In partnership with hubs and our fur-babies.

Which makes reading about successful marriages an interesting set of observations that significantly reflect our reality. Of course, it’s always a good reminder to stay calm during an argument. But more than that, we’ve found that the more important thing is to be present for conversations about the things that are bothering us. More often than not, a discussion and cuddle is enough to resolve the angst disrupting our inner calm. I think that’s actually the biggest benefit of a strong partnership: We provide for each other that space that allows us inner quietude. Naturally, being at a distance from DC has also brought a measure of peace, despite the fact that the world continues down its loud, disruptive path.

We’ve had a few of those disruptions here, as our puppy gets through his teething and growing phase, some of them quite costly. So I’m looking forward to the quiet of the holiday season to enjoy more time at home, falling more toward the introspection that is my native state. I wish you and yours a similar time of restoration and quietude. May the season’s push toward hibernation and cocooning allow you to emerge revitalized into the new year.

Time to Write; Time to Recharge

The amount of recharge time you need is entirely reasonable
(image of a purple dragon sleeping on a mushroom)

It’s November. For those of you who’ve known me for a while know that I started off my novel-writing career by completing NaNoWriMo (national novel-writing month) two years in a row… over a decade ago. Every year since then, I’ve teetered on the will-she/won’t she fence, trying to decide whether I have the time and energy to repeat that process.

This year, I have other plans. I am honoring one of my few “friendships based on virtue” with spending time co-writing a novel. We’re starting chapter five already. It’s a completely new process for me–and strangely freeing. It’s even greased my mental wheels enough that the sharp-eyed among you might have noticed my word count on book three has crossed 1K.

Given that our shared genre falls within the full span of Scifi/Fantasy, it’s not uncommon for either of us to take research and real places or events and twist them through our own filter. So it annoys me when I read something that tells me all the reasons my brain is malfunctioning when I get vibes about particular times or places. Yet that research adds grist to my mill, too, since it would be an excellent explanation for why paranormal beings in our fiction are able to successfully obscure themselves from humanity.

Of course, time as a construct has its own issues. Which could be a different explanation for the ways our brains convince us of the extra dimensions around us. And today, naturally, is the end of the current year’s “Savings” time. I’ve railed about that stupidity enough over the years, and there was a glimmer of hope this year that the US legislative branch might settle into one time zone year round, but the House hasn’t taken up their side of the work. And now we’re in the midst of election theater, so the window is narrowing, and seems less and less likely. In the meantime, I also ran across an article about optimizing work time by minimizing distractions, and planning for deep focus periods.

Which has an interesting parallel in the land of fiction writing: Unless you carve out and defend your writing blocks from such enticing Internet distractions as research holes, social media posts, and daily news distractions, you’ll never write word 1. I’ve stumbled onto an interesting brain hack for myself that helps me avoid those pitfalls: playing “focus music” (often with binaural beats) on a browser tab set to YouTube helps me keep the words flowing.

Hubs and I have also finally gotten into enough of a rhythm with our lives in our new place that we’ve started catching up with our old shows. And added the new one of the Great British Bake-Off – which is as addictive and entertaining as the many who recommended it to us had promised. It’s not as taxing to watch as a series where we have to recollect plotlines we’ve half forgotten in the intervening months. And I discovered the “down-home” feel of the show is supported by an artist who is responsible for the custom renderings of the cooks’ food. An unanticipated benefit to watching has been to learn a new cooking technique or two. Then I ran across this article, that describes the proper way to brown meat.

So I’m busy and productive with writing so far this November, just not on NaNoWriMo. I’ll keep you posted with my progress.

« Previous Entries